How to Start Talking about Sex with Children (Part 3)

How to Start Talking about Sex with Children (Part 3)

01.17.2017 | Family & Relationships | Posted by admin | Article

You made a decision and now you're reading to your kids about sexual issues in the paper: gender equality, equal pay, marriage equality, who should use what bathroom, rising rates of STIs, abortion laws and so on.  No one's called the police on you (yet) and because you're relaxed, your voice is starting to sound like you actually did go through puberty.  You sound mellow.  Resonant.  Confident.

And then one of the Adorable Ones says something like, "Susan at school told me she's already had an abortion." Or, "Mom, have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?" Or, "Whatever you think about abortion is wrong and I think the opposite." Well, sigh, no one ever said these conversations would be easy.  Your uneasiness and your figuring out what to do about it is actually part of the education you're trying to give your children. And this brings us to the oft misunderstood subject of boundaries.

Boundaries are the lines in the sand that define yours vs. mine. Setting boundaries in sexual situations (including conversations) is part of what children want to learn.  Learning when to set boundaries and how to defend them when people disregard them is another.  What not to say: "You shouldn't be thinking about stuff like that!" Instead, if your child is bringing up a topic that's uncomfortable but not actually about you then borrow a page from your local Marriage & Family Therapist and ask them, "So, when she told you that, how did it make you feel?"  Are you saying that processing emotions is part of talking about sexuality?  Yes.

A personal question that you're not ready to discuss should be modeled just like that: "Whoa! I'm not getting into my personal life just now."  (Don't forget to smile when you say that.)  Your children need to learn how to handle conversations just like that and that's what we mean by setting and defending a boundary.

With the teenager who doesn't agree with you on those matters designed to drive you crazy: ask for more information as in, "Wow. I had no idea you felt that way.  That is so interesting.  When did you first make up your mind about that?"  We're teaching our children how to have sexually intimate conversations.  And intimacy is the ability to share our lives with one another...safely.  Teaching your child how to be safe is the best gift of all.